US Is Resettling 10,000th Syrian Refugee This Week
The US will hit its target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees for 2016 in the days ahead. The latest refugees will be arriving from a camp in Jordan, where they have been awaiting the results of an extensive screening process.
It's a milestone that brings hope to some of the most desperate people in the world, but it has not come without controversy.
The goal was set by the Obama adminsitration last year, following renewed interest in the global refugee crisis. Almost immediately, there was a backlash. Detractors claimed that terrorists would infilitrate the resettlement program to enter the country and that it wasn't the US's responsibility to help people elsewhere in the world.
These primary criticisms are easily debunked. Syrian refugees are, in fact, more rigorously screened than any other traveler to the country. If a terrorist wanted to enter the US, this would be the worst route. Also, the US, as a member of the Geneva Convention, has a legal obligation to protect refugees of war.
There are more than 65 million people displaced in the world right now.
The causes of displacement are many: armed conflict, ethnic persecution, natural disaster, and others. In Syria -- where nearly 500,000 people have been killed and around 12 million people have fled their homes -- the cause is a vicious civil war that has raged for more than 5 years.
The vast majority of Syrian refugees are in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Besides Germany, the European Union has shown little inclination to act as a refuge.
Neither has the US. In 2015, the country took in 386 Syrian refugees. From 2011 to 2015, less than 2,000 were accepted. As a comparison, Turkey, which has a population 10 times smaller than the US, hosts 2.5 million Syrian refugees.
The accelerated pace of accepting refugees is a step in the right direction, but it's still glacial. The US can be acting with an urgency that's proportional to the actual crisis taking place.
As any of the recently accepted families can tell you, lives are dependent on it.